What Does Francis Ngannou Do Next After Devastating Defeat To Anthony Joshua?

March 9, 2024
1 month
Francis Ngannou

A second professional boxing bout for Francis Ngannou ended in a devastating knockout defeat to Anthony Joshua on Friday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The former UFC heavyweight champion also lost on his debut in October last year – also in Riyadh – but delivered an impressive performance in a split decision defeat to WBC and lineal world champion Tyson Fury, whom Ngannou floored in the third round.

However, after such a brutal loss to Joshua, it potentially leaves Ngannou at a bit of a career crossroads; does the Cameroonian continue his boxing pursuit or return to MMA?

Continue Boxing Career

After regaining consciousness from being knocked out cold by Joshua, among the first words Ngannou heard from his opponent was to continue with his boxing career.

“[Ngannou] is a great champion and this doesn’t take anything away from his capabilities,” said Joshua. “I told him not to leave boxing. He’s two fights in and he’s fought the best.”

Joshua is correct in his assessment that Ngannou has only fought the very best of the heavyweight division, so it’s difficult to accurately assess the Cameroonian’s true boxing level. Against Fury, he looked like he could be a real threat among the top end of the heavyweight division. The WBC agreed and gave Ngannou a ranking in its top 10.

However, on Friday night, Ngannou closer resembled the journeymen Joshua was knocking out on his way up the ranks. Granted, AJ is a much better fighter now than he was then, but it was hardly a ringing endorsement of Ngannou’s ability as a top-tier boxer.

What will be interesting is if or when Ngannou fights another heavyweight a level or two below Fury and Joshua. How would he fare against the likes of Otto Wallin, Kubrat Pulev, or Joe Joyce – all fighters with similar rankings?

That would provide a far better representation of where Ngannou is as a boxer and whether he can become more than just a high-profile crossover fighter.

Ngannou said after the fight that he is not done with boxing, saying in the press conference: “You can be sure I’m not done here. It wasn’t my day. He was way better than me today. It sucks but it’s the game. We all know that.”

Return to MMA

Ngannou has not fought an MMA bout for more than two years. His last appearance in the cage was at UFC 270 in January 2022 when he defended his UFC heavyweight title with a decision victory over Ciryl Gane.

Since then, the Cameroonian left the UFC after failing to agree terms on a new contract and signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL). His deal with the PFL goes beyond that of a standard fighter; he is also on the global advisory board and is an equity owner and chairman of PFL Africa.

Considering he’s yet to fight for the PFL, a return to MMA and his contractual commitments with the company is sure to be imminent. It was announced in February that Ngannou would fight the winner of the Renan Ferreira vs Ryan Bader bout, which headlined the PFL vs Bellator event in Saudi Arabia.

Ferreira, the PFL heavyweight champion, secured the victory with a knockout 21 seconds into the first round and immediately called out Ngannou, who was sat in the front row.

Ngannou’s PFL contract also allows him to compete in other sports, so it is possible that he could attempt to balance MMA and boxing at the same time, although one will have to take priority eventually.